New PATH links Lithonia to Conyers

Jason Atkinson (left) of McDonough makes his way through an arch of balloons along the PATH in Conyers where a ribbon cutting was held to officially open the new section of the trail. Atkinson’s daughter Cassidy waits for her dad to catch up. Photos by Gale Horton Gay

Sun shined on the official opening of the newest section of the PATH trail that runs from Conyers to Lithonia.

On June 14, a ribbon cutting was held at the portion of the PATH at the Monastery of the Holy Spirit in Conyers and which extends 30-plus miles to and through Davidson Arabia Mountain Nature Preserve. An estimated 50 cyclists participated in a morning ride along the new trail. The Rockdale River Trail meanders across creeks, rivers and a lake and includes a concrete trail and elevated boardwalks.

To celebrate the opening, events ranging from free bike rental, kayaking, archery, arts and crafts, educational talks on plants and insects were held at 11 locations along the trail such as the Stonecrest Library, Lyon Farm and Panola Mountain State Park.

Jason Atkinson of McDonough and his 12-year-old daughter Cassidy biked 10 miles on the trail. Atkinson, who said he lost 75 pounds during the past four years, was ecstatic about the new trail.

“It’s just a good chance to get outside and be active with your family,” he said.

Jackie Macomber of Clarkston checks out a bike before hitting the trail at Davidson Arabia Mountain Nature Preserve.
Jackie Macomber of Clarkston checks out a bike before hitting the trail at Davidson Arabia Mountain Nature Preserve.

Sam Smiley of Rockdale County stopped at the information booth at the monastery and expressed his pleasure with the PATH addition.

“I think it’s great…,” said Smiley. “Certainly from a health standpoint whether you bicycle or run.”

In Lithonia at Davidson Arabia Mountain Nature Preserve, Mera Cardenas, executive director of the Arabia Mountain Heritage Area Alliance, passed out maps, information and a “Trail Treasures” game.

“This is a celebration for the community,” said Cardenas of the trail that has been under construction for 12 years. “A lot of people might go to the same spot on the trail and don’t go back out and explore different areas. You can have a different experience every day.” Cardenas said the trail was intentionally developed in such a way to include links to historic sites such as the Lyon Farm and Vaughters Farm.

“Whatever your interest level, whatever your experience level, whatever your comfort level, there’s something out here for you to experience,” she said.

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The PATH Foundation, in partnership with DeKalb and Rockdale counties as well as the Arabia Mountain Heritage Alliance, has developed a trail system through 7,000 acres of green space.

Jackie Macomber of Clarkston spent the day taking it all in. She started at the monastery in the morning, visited the trail head in Panola Mountain, stopped at DeCastro trailhead and listened to talks on leaves and insects before coming to Davidson Arabia Mountain in the afternoon.

“I just think the whole trail is amazing,” said Macomber after she signed up for free bike rental. “It’s great to find out there’s something like this out there. I hope people in metro Atlanta know about it and take advantage of it.”

 

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